Home » OOTB Reviews » Out of the Bedroom 705 review – Thursday 14th November 2019

Out of the Bedroom 705 review – Thursday 14th November 2019

Beth Clarke top hat

Running order: Roy McIntosh, Calum Carlyle, Susanna Macdonald-Mulvihill, Startled Bee, Will B, Majk Stokes, Los Cabinos/Stephanos, Jim Bryce, Danny Mullins, feature act: Beth Clarke.

Roy McIntosh was host this evening and Malcolm McLean was on sound desk. Venue was Woodland Creatures.

Roy McIntosh: ‘Menie’ – great to hear this new song from Roy which was an anti-SNP/Trump song about the trashing of the natural environment for the sake of mammon. Roy’s music is always heartfelt and it’s nice to hear some politics being added to the mix. A more traditional folk approach than we have been used to from Roy and I look forward to hearing this again soon, along with a potential new Christmas song.  

Calum Carlyle: ‘Persevere’ – nice to hear Calum’s “songs of mystery” for the first time in ages, having missed his OOTB feature act set during August. This song based on the motto of Leith was written about a year and a half ago. About overcoming the bumps in your life and carrying on, sung with gusto and his guitar chops were very impressive. ‘The Sound of Falling In Love At First Sight’ – was an older, heartfelt and honest love song with words of genuine affection. Perhaps a nod to the late, great John Martyn in his style of guitar playing – the tuning may have been DADGAD. JM would have been proud. ‘Gladrags’ – as requested by soundman Malcolm, this was a positive, happy song to finish. Originally written for a rock band, this was a call to arms for us all to get up off the sofa, get out of the house, let our hair down and dance. Calum showed his wide vocal range and there were some very impressive guitar gymnastics up and down the fretboard. Phew, the energy!

Susanna Macdonald-Mulvihill: ‘Paper Aeroplanes’ – originally written when she was 17, and rewritten this year, this was about innocence: perhaps both her own childhood innocence and her childrens’? Plucked very nicely, Susanna’s playing has improved and matured over the intervening years between her first gigs around the Edinburgh Songwriters Showcase days (pre-OOTB) and now. Susanna admitted she has grown less angry and is now more mellow. ‘Ariadne’s Song’ – about a famous female character in brutal Greek mythology taken from her daughter’s history book. Susanna showed some of the old (not so old) fire in this one, singing a cappella, initially about Ariadne’s hopes for the future followed by the bitterness, cursing the “god” who left her high and dry. ‘Spinning’ – a story about dancing, written when she was learning her craft at the legendary Sandy Bells sessions. A sweet, pleasant folk song – it was a shame it was so short. Great return from Susanna. 

Startled Bee: ‘On The Jetty’ – always a pleasure to hear this one. I didn’t remember the “la la las” on the intro but that may be just my memory. A positive performance which exuded the confidence of a man comfortable in his own skin, going places. “The old red jumper” was a powerful symbol, possibly metaphorical? (I am reading a book of Leonard Cohen poetry that mentions a woman in a red jumper which is definitely symbolic.) ‘Tilly Dear’ – in Mr Bees’ view this was “a Nick Cave song about murder” but, to us, he thought it might seem “quite jaunty”. I was in the latter camp as I felt this was far too nice sounding for Cave! High notes made the chorus soar and this was a cracking addition to the SB canon. ‘Only So Long’ – probably my favourite Bee song at the moment. A protracted 12-bar with a killer chorus “Tom Waits, only so long”. It might be “time waits” but both work for me! Flows beautifully, great melodic resolution, a sweet love song.  

Will B: a short, less-than-three-minutes cameo from the OOTB poet of legend. ‘The Shortest Day’ – pointed out, using some vivid examples, of how much can go on in a day, regardless of how much sunlight we might have. ‘Lift Off’ – about an Edinburgh landmark where “the fuel used up many years ago / in the writer that lies underneath it”. ‘Intermission’ – no more need be said.

Majk Stokes: ‘Wake Up And Smell The Coffee’ – adorned in his Gothic waistcoat (two weeks  post-Halloween) – Majk shared this pro-environment song. Very wordy, Majk made a clear case in blunt language that we’re going down the wrong path, we are destroying the planet and need to change it very quickly. ‘Clean The Seas’ – staying on the theme, this was another plain message that the seas, which absorb much of Earth’s toxins, needs to be cleaner. Delivered with passion and fine guitar playing. ‘Thunderbirds Are Gone’ – an amusing poem from Majk’s poetry book released earlier this year. Weaving  the environmental theme into the characters in the famous old children’s TV show ‘Thunderbirds’. Very clever and expertly delivered.

Los Cabinos/Stephanos: ‘Amnesia’ – the Greek/Cypriot duo Los Cabinos were George (guitar/vocal) and Stephanos (violin) and this was about George’s grandmother who has sadly been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This was a technically-impressive soft rock number with some powerful singing from debutant George. ‘Arabian Nights’ – Stephanos solo instrumental with his violin which he played like a guitar with an extraordinarily powerful use of loop pedals. Serious imagination and artistry, this had an Arabic theme with more than a dash of psychedelia. ‘Rotating Arpeggios’ –  this was much softer, but no less imaginative. Plucking and bowing the violin, this was a more traditionally classical approach while continuing the wild experimentation.A great response from the audience to someone who is musically clearly in a class of his own.

Jim Bryce: ‘Pictures’ – Jim was recording this Christmas song, finally after playing it for a number of years. A warm, fuzzy Christmas song which sounded a bit like classic Billy Joel if he had played guitar instead of piano. It made me feel a bit better about Christmas with seven weeks to go. ‘Rosie’s Song’ – a sentimental ballad. Jim was in a mellow, wistful mood this evening. I interpreted this as a story of everyday love between two people without much money and, despite the hardship, great affection for each other. Nice whistling. ‘Five Year Old’ – written from the perspective of a precocious and perceptive five-year-old child. This  will be on Jim’s next album on the theme of birth to death (we hope the latter will not be for quite some time yet). Sung with emotional depth and beautifully delivered utilising his immense acting experience.

Danny Mullins: ‘Union Path’ – the “funky folkie” Danny had not played at OOTB for about 15 years when he was in his early ‘20s. This was about the beautiful summer in Edinburgh in 2018 when he did a lot of cycling. A lovely guitar riff with some wicked picking and words of universal love and warmth flowing from a stream of consciousness. ‘Rest In Peace’ – definitely funky with a soaring chorus. Some primal, elemental imagery of hills, rivers and valleys. Perhaps a cry for peace in his sleeping? ‘Barcelona’ – nothing to do with the late Freddie Mercury or Montserrat Caballé, this was about youth hostelling in Europe and was played in a reggae style. Bringing some sunshine into mid-November! “From the Forest Cafe to the Plaça del Rei”. There were some nice jazzy chords and a mean mouth trumpet!

Feature act: Beth Clarke. ‘Spring Rain’ – very well-dressed in a snazzy trouser suit, Beth sang this song about togetherness. A lovely, lolling feel to this. “Feel the cool rain on your skin… may it anoint us all”. Possibly the first song at OOTB to use the word “anoint”? ‘Edinburgh Weather’ – Dedicated to Majk who she wrote the song for [Ed: aww…]. Welcoming the haar by the rainy seaside coast. A joyous song, sung by Beth with a broad, genuine smile on her face. ‘Aberlady Bay’ – about a trip to Gullane but she felt, quite rightly, that Aberlady sounded better. Observing nature and articulating those observations well. “I’m a selkie in my element.” Some gorgeous chord sequences in this enchanting song. ‘Union Street’ – about being lost when she moved to Edinburgh in her ‘20s. This was advice from her current self to her younger self. Played the mandola marvellously and I could hear this being played on the radio – maybe Iain Anderson’s Radio Scotland show? ‘The Pretty Flowers’ – the story of her family going back to childhood. This was a tragic tale of going to the grave of her late sister who died young with her father and laying flowers on her grave. A contrast from the jollier songs and evoked powerful emotions; this was as much spoken as sung. ‘All These Things’ – about contradictions, specifically about the contradictions of her humanity, some of which I think we all share. “All these things is all I am, this disease isn’t all I am”. Some powerful imagery and fantastic use of language, always avoiding cliches. A proud statement from someone who is very much in touch with herself. Final song, as yet untitled, featured her partner Majk accompanying on guitar. This gave Beth the opportunity to go for the Liza Minnelli Cabaret look with the top hat and flirtatious style – a side to her that I don’t think we had not seen before! Using her background in medicine, she employed some biological terminology in a raunchy and very funny way. An upbeat way to end what was a terrific debut feature act performance from Beth. Hopefully there will be many more to come. 

Review: James Igoe

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